Saturday, January 27, 2024

More Anza Borrego

 On first glance, what we've been up to this time, is pretty much a mirror image of the last blog post.  Just chillin' in the So Cal desert, and enjoying the distinct lack of cold, and snow shoveling!

But, I guess there has been a few differences, so here goes:

It was time for Bailey's final (?) vaccination, so we packed up  our stuff and moved back to Sidewinder road, for easy access into Yuma.  Of course, the free rv dump at the rest area on I-8 west of El Centro was taken advantage of, as well as their garbage facilities.  But I prefer the fresh water from the rest area near the sand dunes west of Yuma, so used that to fill up all fresh water storage.

 He is already turning into quite a good little traveler with no complaints thus far.

While in Yuma, of course, we took advantage of the cheaper fuel, propane, and stocked up on groceries.

Another day was spent on the annual pilgrimage to Los Algodones, Mexico for a teeth cleaning and a badly needed haircut.

Initially I had an idea that we might head a bit further south-east into Arizona, and maybe head down Why way or somewhere.  But - the Humane Society advised that a third and final vaccination  was required at the end of the month.  So, after a lot of map looking and coin tossing, it was decided to head right back west to hang out in Anza Borrego Desert State Park again.  This time, the wind warnings were out, and the dust was a-blowing was we headed back westward.  Surprisingly, only about 1/3 of the plentiful windmills near Ocotillo were turning.  It seemed that the constant gusting side winds were too much for the trailers licence plate holder, as the plate was nowhere to be found upon arrival :-(

Upon close binocular aided observation from the highway, it was obvious that someone else was 'enjoying' our favourite spot, so we carried on to try out a new spot along the Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849!
Although a bit further from pavement, on a fairly washboard road, the spot proved to have much less traffic and use than expected!
It was another old abandoned Stage station/ranch remains, with lots of 'history' lying around in the form of old foundations, pipes, fence posts, and an abundance of broken glass as well as nails and screws from people burning pallets, etc.  My first haul was close to 10 lbs of rusty nails, wire, screws etc that I kindly donated to the County Park when I went there for a soak in the hot springs.  I am now collecting lots of broken glass from the area as well.
I've had a few neighbours a couple of times, but thankfully no loud music or nasty generators, and most of the time we've had it to ourselves.
Much like our last visit here, the time has been spent hiking, biking, cat watching, while enjoying the solitude and scenery.  Any spare time is used to pick glass or use the floor magnet to collect nails from the camp area.

 One of the cycle/hike days was spent re-visiting the Mt Palm Spring oasis, but still no hordes of Robins like last year here.

Another day was spent polishing up an old headlight on the GM.  Before, and after pics.

Then, we got the modern version of "Build an Ark", by way of the National Weather Service!


The desert welcomed the rain, I'm sure, and it did not experience the severity of what was experienced in San Diego, just an hour to the west - where media showed cars floating down the streets!   There were a few relatively minor washouts on the county highway.


The access road to camp had a few rough sections, but much of the water flowing down the travel surface actually smoothed out the washboard in many places!

Most of the damage was obvious, and easy to avoid, but there was one sneaky sink hole that opened up that would have been easy to drive into - so I used a highway maintenance trick from Mexico, and marked it with a large 'safety boulder'!  

Beyond camp, the road becomes more challenging.  I had a couple knock on my door one dark and moonless night.  Their vehicle had become mired in deep sand and silt a mile or so further back.

The ruts are a foot deep in this area, the whole travel surface is 5-6' below level ground, and the silt is so soft and fluffy that you go ankle deep just walking in it.

 I hooked on with the big GM, and hauled them back onto solid ground.

But since the rain, no one has been able to go through that area.

Back in camp, the rain reminded me that I have an awning, so it got pulled out for it's once a year inspection, and drying (the next day).  And the rain was also a good excuse to give my little Honda generator its once a month exercise! Use of the awning or generator are both rarities, and seeing them both at once has never been seen before, and will probably never be seen again! :-)

Some of the lowlands behind camp got flooded for a day.

Had a bit of sand wash over my mat, and collected some free water from the roof spouts to use for washing stuff.

Even so, several days later, I saw this F150 near my camp, stuck on apparently flat ground.  Some of this sand has enough silt or clay in it that, when wet, it's just like grease.  Where this guy had attempted to turn around was just one such spot.  It was even hard to stand up on foot there.  Hoping for a photo of a GM pulling out a Ford didn't work out, as he was finally able to extricate himself by laying brush and branches under his wheels.  Having only 2WD didn't help him much either.


Some more night photos of camp - those shadows are from the moonlight only!


The morning after the big storm, with some thunder and lightning, both my AT&T devices were off the air.  One is my Canadian phone, which defaults to ATT when in the US, and my hotspot device actually has an AT&T account.  Both were down - at the same time.  I eventually convinced my phone to connect to T-mobile and commenced an online chat with AT&T to see if they might have had a tower hit by lightning or something.  No surprise, but their customer service is rather useless.  Clearly, they just follow a 'script', regardless of what you say.  They clearly did not comprehend that when two completely separate devices quit at the same time - chances are its the tower! I asked if they had any tower issues in the area - no response.  First, they needed to know my zipcode! And the passcode for my account! I told them I don't HAVE one, but gave them my Google Maps coordinates, told them what towns were in the area, and offered to supply lat longs - which fell on deaf ears.  Over and over they insisted that if I 'logged into my account' they would be able to fix everything!  What?  My Canadian Rogers account!!  Then they insisted that if I re-set my phone, that would cure the problem - effectively ending the chat - which is likely what they wanted!  How re-setting my phone would bring the hotspot back online was clearly beyond of their comprehension!

I asked to chat with a supervisor, and was promptly cut off ;-)  When I finally got a supervisor online, his first question was my zipcode - again!  But he had at least passed Grade8, and eventually told me that there was a tower with problems in the area, and that it was due to be repaired the next day!!  Hello!  All this took an hour of frustration dealing with people who don't listen.  Next morning, AT&T was back, and working just fine, with no changes or re-sets on my end.

Note: I do have my Starlink with me, but it is on pause for all winter, likely.  It costs a LOT more monthly than my grandfathered cheap, unlimited AT&T account, uses more power, and does not work when I'm on the road etc.  Plus, my cell phone has about 100Gb more data than I could ever use, so between the two unless I find a really cell-free area, I've got it under control. 

Bailey, trying his best to solve the communication issues!

Back to Yuma at month-end, then off to undetermined locations!

Monday, January 08, 2024

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

 We've spent the last couple weeks or so camped out in the beautiful desert in the southern part of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.  It's the largest State Park in California, and encompasses a vast area of diverse mountains and desert.

There are some primitive fee campgrounds in the area, but boondocking is permitted almost everywhere.

Really enjoying being well out of range of any noise from Interstates or the busy railroad.  Bailey seems to be settling in just fine, and learning the ropes of a mobile lifestyle.  And he's growing - fast!

 There was some moderate rains one day - though far less than they got on the California coast, Yuma, or Quartzsite.  This seems to be a bit of a rain shadow area.  But I discovered that a bit of rain greatly improves the the bikeability of the sand trails and washes, before it dries out and trucks and jeeps get it all dug up again.  So, I was able to get out and explore a lot of area not usually that accessible on two wheels!

There were only a couple areas that were still a bit muddy or wet.  I was able to make a couple circle routes, and returning along the S2 highway.

Took the truck out for a spin as well, and ended up doing a rather long loop as well, combining portions of the Great Southern Overland Stage route, Vallecito Ck, and Sin Nombre Canyon.  I did find a few deep sand areas that also held standing water, so avoided those areas.
I took a side trip up Arroyo Tapiado to the Wind Caves area.  That wash got a bit rough with the washboard, so I unloaded the bike and rode it the last few kms.  That was Christmas day, so there were a few more vehicles out exploring than usual.

The rains likely brought out a few leaves on the Ocotillo cactus.
On one hike up a remote side canyon, I found this old sandal - with some sort of foam attached to the bottom - a technique used by some undocumented aliens or smugglers to disguise their tracks.

Lots of sharp stuff in the desert!

Back in camp area, I discovered that this pair of foxes had their den nearby.  They would often sit outside in the sun in the late afternoon or early morning.  Presumably, they spend their nights hunting.  They saw Bailey, but did not seem interested.  And he is close to the same size as them.

Even though they did not seem very shy or alarmed to see me watching them, it was a good excuse to get out my rarely used mirrored photo blind that I have been carrying around for years - just in case!

Fire pans are required in the park, so I put mine inside the large existing fire ring!
Most of our time there was spent fairly close to camp, but last year I discovered Agua Caliente County Park not too far away.  It has a very nice little campground, with rental units as well, and it has a huge indoor hot pool, and two outdoor swimming pools that you can enjoy for $3.  On a typically hot sunny day there were only a couple people in the huge hot pool.  But when I went on the rainy day, it was busy with 25-30 people.  It is so big that even that was not that crowded.  They also have pay showers.

There is lots of very interesting geology in the area ...

I had a few neighbours in the time I was there, but often the nearest rig was miles away.

Bailey - the high climber!